Braves' Blair faces D-backs in Chase Field debut (Jul 26, 2017)

BY AP • July 26, 2017

PHOENIX -- Welcome to Chase Field, Aaron Blair.


The Atlanta Braves right-hander was paid a $1,435,000 signing bonus as the No. 36 overall pick by the Diamondbacks in the 2013 draft. However, he never pitched a major league game for Arizona. He was dealt to Atlanta in late 2015, along with outfielder Ender Inciarte and shortstop Dansby Swanson, for currently injured right-hander Shelby Miller.

On Wednesday, Blair finally gets the chance to pitch in the Diamondbacks' home ballpark as he makes his first start of the season for Atlanta. He will be the replacement for left-hander Jaime Garcia, who was traded to the Minnesota Twins on Monday.

Blair had an uneven debut season with Atlanta in 2016, going 2-7 with a 7.59 ERA. However, his last start Oct. 1 against the Detroit Tigers was arguably his best as he gave up two runs, struck out 10 and walked only one in six innings during a 5-3 Braves victory.

No doubt manager Brian Snitker would like to see a repeat performance after Atlanta's 8-3 victory at Arizona on Tuesday night. The Braves can take two out of three in the series by winning Wednesday, which would be an accomplishment for a team that last won a series in Arizona in 2012.

Blair joined the Braves in Los Angeles last weekend in case Garcia was sent to Minnesota and a spot starter was needed. However, the trade didn't go through immediately and Blair returned to Triple-A Gwinnett, where he is 6-5 with a 4.86 ERA this season.

While Blair has faced Arizona only once in his career -- a 7-2 loss on May 6, 2016, in which he gave up three runs (two earned) over five innings -- his Wednesday mound opponent, Patrick Corbin, has a history with the Braves. A very good one, too.

Corbin (7-9, 4.43 ERA) is 3-0 with an 0.59 ERA against Atlanta, yielding only two earned runs in 30 2/3 innings over six games (four starts). Those two runs came July 15 during a five-inning start in Atlanta, when he didn't figure in the decision as the Braves won 8-5.

Corbin's last start might have been his best this season. Moved up in the rotation because Taijuan Walker went on paternity leave for the birth of his son, the left-hander limited Cincinnati to one run over 7 1/3 innings of a 12-2 Arizona victory on Thursday.

"Sometimes you're not thinking about it as much," Corbin said of pitching on short notice. "You just go out there and make your pitches."

Corbin is pitching effectively at Chase Field, where he is 5-3 with a 3.15 ERA. Over his past three starts there, he has a 2.41 ERA.

While manager Torey Lovullo has fielded a number of different lineups this season, the top of the Diamondbacks' order appears to be settling in following last week's trade that brought over right fielder J.D. Martinez from Detroit.

"That's a really good team over there -- you can see why they're where they're at," Snitker said of the NL wild-card leaders.

Martinez was struck in the left hand by a pitch during his first game with Arizona on July 19 and didn't start the next four games. He went back into the lineup Monday, and the past two games, he batted fifth behind left fielder David Peralta, center fielder A.J. Pollock, third baseman Jake Lamb and first baseman Paul Goldschmidt. All but Peralta are former or current All-Stars.

It is a lineup that Lovullo probably won't have to tinker with much, except to give a player an occasional day off or to make an adjustment here or there based on the opposing starting pitcher.

"At times I'm very tempted to change some things (as a manager)," Lovullo said. "I'm human like everybody else. I want everything, all at once, right now. But sometimes I have to sit back and say what's the best for the player, what's the best for this team -- and I always remember those moments."

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